On February 24, 2022 Russia commenced a premeditated, full-scale military attack on Ukraine. In those terrifying times Ukrainians are now forced to seek shelter in other countries. After one week, it is estimated that over one million people fled Ukraine to the neighboring countries, such as Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania. Uncertain of how long this nightmare will last, Ukrainian citizens may seek for other possible destinations to escape, such as Western Europe or the United States.
Due to the Russian hostilities in Ukraine, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Ukrainian citizens currently present in the U.S for 18 months. However, not everyone escaping the war will be eligible for TPS, as TPS will only be available to Ukrainians who were already present in the United States on March 1, 2022. Read this article to find out about the TPS eligibility and other options available.
What is the temporary protected status?
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a program that allows migrants arriving in the United States from certain countries to be granted TPS when deporting them to their country of origin poses a threat to that person’s security. TPS is granted when the person’s home country is experiencing difficulties or conflicts that make returning untenable, or a direct threat to the wellbeing and safety of that person.
To be eligible for TPS, a person must:
- Be a national, or a habitually stateless resident, of a country with TPS
- Be continuously physically present in the United States since a country’s TPS designation;
- Have continuously resided in the United States since a date specified by the Secretary of Homeland Security (March 1 for TPS granted for Ukraine); and
- Pose no threat to the U.S. for nefarious, criminal or national security-related reasons, determined by the relevant U.S. agency.
How to apply for temporary protected status?
An individual who is eligible for TPS must register by submitting an application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If a person demonstrates eligibility and USCIS grants TPS, that person receives a temporary stay of deportation and temporary authorization to work in the United States. TPS beneficiaries are also eligible for advance parole, which provides permission to travel abroad and return to the United States, but they must apply for it separately.
The following forms should be submitted in the application process:
- Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status,
- Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization,
- Form I-601 inadmissibility waiver request, if needed, and
- All applicable fees or an I-192 Fee Waiver Request.
Along with the above mentioned forms, an applicant must submit evidence of:
- His or her identity and nationality;
- The date on which the alien entered the United States; and
- Continuous residence (CR) in the U.S. since the CR date specified for the alien’s country.
Documents must either be in English or accompanied by a certified English translation. The translator must certify that he or she is competent both in English and the foreign language used in the original document, and that the translation is true and correct to the best of his or her ability, knowledge and belief.
What other options are available for Ukrainian to go to the U.S.?
Generally, a citizen of Ukraine who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for a temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. Here we present you with the most common possibilities to enter the United States:
B1/B2 visitor visas are nonimmigrant visas for persons who want to enter the United States temporarily for business (visa category B-1), for tourism (visa category B-2), or for a combination of both purposes (B-1/B-2). Once granted, an individual can stay in the US up to 180 day per entry.
The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is for the individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements. For more information, please see our blog post about the O-1 Visa Requirements.
The E-2 U.S. Immigrant Investor Visa Program is another available option to Ukraine citizens. To qualify for Treaty Investor (E-2) visa applicants must be coming to the United States either to develop or direct the operation of an enterprise in which the applicant has invested a substantial amount of capital. Treaty Investor (E-2) visas are for citizens of countries with which the United States maintains treaties of commerce and navigation. Ukraine is one of these countries.
Where can i apply for the U.S. visa?
Since the escalation of Russia’s invasion on Ukraine, the U.S. Consulate in Kyiv is not scheduling any visa interviews for temporary visas. At this time, visa operations are suspended for interview waiver cases as well. Therefore, even if the applicant is eligible to obtain the visa without an interview, at this time, the U.S. Consulate in Kyiv is not processing those applications.
Ukrainian citizens seeking to apply for a nonimmigrant or temporary U.S. visa may apply in the U.S. Consulate in any other country where they are physically located, if appointments are available. Applicants should contact the U.S. consulate in those third countries in advance, to ensure they meet the requirements to apply in that particular country.
Our Passright team strongly stands with the people of Ukraine. We all have to be united during these difficult times. Therefore, we will continue to help citizens, entrepreneurs, researchers, and scientists from Ukraine in obtaining their visas and provide them with any legal assistance they may need. If you have any questions, please contact our legal team at [email protected].
Which forms should I use to apply for TPS?Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status, Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (whether or not employment is desired), Form I-601 inadmissibility waiver request, if needed.
How much does it cost to apply for TPS?First-time TPS applicants must submit a $50 fee with their Form I-821. There is no Form I-821 fee for re-registration. Applicants age 14 and older must also pay an $85 fee for biometric services (fingerprinting, background check and other verification of identity). All applicants must also file a Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Document (EAD), even if they don’t need or want an EAD. There is a filing fee of $410 for the Form I-765, but a fee waiver may be requested. And finally, if the alien is inadmissible to the U.S., he or she must also apply for a Form I-601 Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility. The I-601 waiver requires an additional filing fee of $930, though a fee waiver may be available.